“Seeing a lady like that makes a fellow feel sort of… homesick, doesn’t it, sir?”
A French Foreign Legionnaire (Ronald Colman) in Algeria falls in love with a visiting noblewoman (Rosalind Russell), who is equally smitten with him. Meanwhile, Colman’s commander (Victor McLaglen) is jealous and upset that his girlfriend “Cigarette” (Claudette Colbert) has also fallen for Colman, and attempts to send Colman into numerous dangerous situations.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Claudette Colbert Films
- Historical Drama
- Love Triangle
- Ronald Colman Films
- Rosalind Russell Films
- Victor McLaglen Films
Modern film fanatics will likely be unfamiliar with the bestselling 1867 novel upon which this romantic desert war flick is based, though it was popular enough to have undergone numerous adaptations before this one. Unfortunately, the story hasn’t aged well at all, coming across these days as simply an orientalist excuse to mount elaborate battle scenes in what the opening title cards tell us is “North Africa at the turn of the century — a land of eternal mystery — primitive, barbaric, the camel train its only link with the outer world.” The lead actors all try their best with the material they’re given, but they’re merely caught up in a standard cross-class love quadrangle which can clearly only end one way. The location shooting (in Arizona) is quite effective, but otherwise this one is only must-see viewing for completists of Colman, Colbert (who replaced both Simone Simon and Barbara Stanwyck in her role), Russell, or McLaglen.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Effective cinematography
No; you can skip this one.